Hugging a picture-perfect bay seven kilometres east of the city, Bondi fuses laid-back beach vibes with upmarket chic. It’s undoubtedly Australia’s most famous stretch of sand and together with the surrounding suburb comprises Bondi Beach. While the suburb’s real-estate is accessible to only a few, the beach is populated by everyone from backpackers to jet-setting celebrities and remains a strong aspect of Bondi’s allure.
The one-kilometre beach is the centre of Bondi’s action, with sandbar breaks dishing up good surf and protected saltwater sea baths at both ends. Bondi does have some dangerous rips and big swells only for competent swimmers, but the world’s oldest lifesaving club patrol the beach throughout the year between the red and yellow flags. There’s a scattering of art galleries and contemporary cafes that line the beachfront, while on weekends the Bondi Beach markets showcase local produce, unique designer clothes, vintage furniture and handmade jewellery. Bondi is also renowned for its festivals, including Sculptures by the Sea which exhibits between Bondi and Tamarama Beach, together with Australia’s largest kite-flying festival, the Festival of the Winds.
The suburb of Bondi Beach is easy to manage on foot and the popular six-kilometre Bondi to Coogee Walk follows the coastline south, with plenty of lookouts and cafes to take in the sweeping coastal vistas. Public buses are the best way to get to Bondi Beach if travelling from the CBD, while the Bondi Junction train station is located 3 kilometres away.
Bondi roughly translates as “water breaking over rocks” in the local Aboriginal language and this oceanside playground has been open as a public reserve since 1882. While the suburb remained working class and multicultural throughout much of the 20th century, attracting Jewish, Asian, Samoan and New Zealand migrants following WWII, in recent years it has evolved into an upper/middle-class area. Bondi has always been at the forefront of Australia’s beach attire regulations, namely the 1907 Sydney bathing costume protests and post-WWII inspections where bikini-lines were carefully measured on the sands and regulations were strictly enforced.